FHT’s Maria Mason talks about her business activities during COVID-19

Maria Mason yoga

Maria Mason is an FHT Vice President and owner of a multi-award-winning salon, BeautyTime, in Bristol. In this piece, Maria talks about what she has been doing to support her clients during the COVID-19 lockdown and to start getting her salon ready for business, when government guidelines allow…

Like all of our members, I was initially shocked and saddened when it became apparent I would have to put my business on hold as a result of COVID-19. I knew it was the right thing to do, to help protect my clients and staff from this awful virus, but it was still incredibly hard to say farewell to my team and close the salon doors at the time.

However, in the back of my mind, I had already considered what I would need to do if I had to shut down the business for any length of time, so it didn’t take long to put an action plan in place…

The personal touch
My first priority was to contact all of our clients. As an established salon, we have hundreds of people on our books, so I started by making a list of our top 100 clients, who I then contacted by telephone. As you can imagine, it took a long time to speak to them all in person, but without exception, they were incredibly grateful for the call. After helping them with any immediate wellbeing concerns, we moved any upcoming appointments to a later date in the diary and agreed to review these nearer the time. I explained to them the different ways I was planning to support clients during lockdown, asked them if they would be interested in any of these support measures and, if so, how they would like to be contacted moving forward.

For the remainder of our clients, I contacted them all by email – again, explaining what services I could offer and asking them how they would prefer to be contacted with information and updates.

In many ways, it was a unique and welcome opportunity to talk at length to my most loyal clients about their health and wellbeing needs and to refresh their communication preferences.

BeautyTime’s remote support for clients
I decided to offer my clients two key services. The first is remote 1-2-1 consultations, which are free of charge. The majority of these take place by telephone or a video app such as FaceTime, whichever means of communication best suits the individual client. Based on what they tell me during the consultation, I will recommend products and self-help techniques that they can use safely at home, from wheat bags and essential oils to taking part in an online meditation or yoga session.

The second is a ‘click and collect’ service. Many of my regular clients buy products from the salon, so I put measures in place for them to easily order and pick up products when they are passing the salon. The payments are taken over the phone or online and there is a pick-up point in our car park. I deliver products to my most vulnerable clients, or those self-isolating, and leave them outside (at no extra cost).

Professional development and salon upkeep
When I’m not supporting my clients, I am keeping myself busy and getting the salon ready for when we return to full business. I have been using this opportunity to review our policies, to research new treatments, and directing my staff to online training opportunities, which then can do while my business takes advantage of the government’s furlough scheme.

I’ve also been redecorating and deep cleaning every inch of the salon, as well as tending to the outside areas too, such as the Zen garden we have and repainting the fence in the car park. I make a point of doing these mundane tasks mindfully; using my experience of meditation from the various monasteries I have travelled to. I find this helps to keep my own health and wellbeing in check.

I made the decision to donate our face masks and various other hygiene products to our local hospital. And when it is safe for the salon to reopen, I am planning to do a free one-day meditation workshop, for the local health professionals and key workers who have been bravely supporting our community throughout this time.

From a business point of view, it’s important that we are communicating all of this positive work to our clients. That way they know we are already taking steps to ensure that the salon is a safe and welcoming environment for them to return to when we open again.

A couple of business tips to other therapists…
While this situation is as unique to me as it is every single FHT member, I thought it would be helpful to highlight a couple of things I have already learnt from experience.

The first is not to offer your support and services to everyone. Make sure that some of your remote business offerings are exclusive to your regular clients – whether it’s a private group on social media that they can join or another service that’s just for them. It’s important for them to feel special and extra cared for at this time.

The second is to maintain professional boundaries, which I know is easier said than done. Of course, it is vitally important that we connect with others during this time but when we resume business, our clients need to see us as their ‘friendly professional therapist’ rather than their ‘friend’ – for both their sake and ours.

Stay safe and well and I wish you and your clients the very best for the future.

 

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